How to Grow Microgreens DIY instructions

Growing microgreens: do-it-yourself(DIY) instructions

Microgreens convince with their taste and colorful appearance. The cultivation of microgreens is not difficult at all and works on almost every window sill.

Microgreens at home
Microgreens at home

Nowadays, trends often come to us from America and come to Europe and Germany. It is no different with microgreens: They are now also conquering upscale gastronomy in our country and are becoming increasingly popular with hobby gardeners. No wonder: after all, the nutritious plants in miniature can be grown in a particularly space-saving manner.

What are microgreens?

Microgreens are considered leafy vegetables, but are actually seedlings of different types of vegetables that are otherwise not necessarily consumed as leafy vegetables. The cotyledons are always fully developed and there may be more leaves. For the Micro Greens seed a wide variety of vegetable and herb species as are  peas  ( Pisum sativum ),  sunflower  ( Helianthus anuus ),  broccoli  ( Brassica oleracea  var.  Italica ), radish ( Raphanus sativus ),  parsley  ( Petroselinum crispum) and many more. Most types of plants can be harvested after 7-21 days. To harvest the microgreens are simply cut off just above the ground and eaten with the sprout. Due to the easy maintenance and the fact that microgreens enjoy the reputation of a particularly healthy food, microgreens are being grown by more and more people.
In fact, microgreens usually have a higher nutrient density than the full-grown plant, but in return you usually eat a significantly smaller amount. So microgreens are good for a balanced diet, but like many other so-called “superfoods” should not be understood as miracle cures.
In the following we will show you how easy it is to grow microgreens.

By the way:  Many people are familiar with a microgreen species and have already planted it. We are talking about the  garden cress  ( Lepidium sativum ). Cress impresses with its sharp, spicy taste and is harvested when the cotyledons are fully developed.

Growing microgreens

Microgreens are not only healthy and tasty, but also easy to grow. Most of the materials needed for growing microgreens can be found in almost every household.

Seeds or seed pads?

Normal seeds that are also planted in the garden can also be used to grow microgreens. However, these are usually very expensive and a lot of seeds are needed for a bowl of microgreens. Special microgreens seeds, which are offered in larger quantities and at a lower price, can now also be found in some garden centers and hardware stores. For some microgreen species such as peas, sunflowers or beans, you can also use the plant seeds that are actually intended for cooking. It is important that the seeds are not seasoned, roasted, cooked or otherwise processed. Specialized online shops offer a larger selection. There you can also find seed pads: These are mats into which the seeds have already been incorporated. The pads only have to be placed in a bowl and poured.

Tip:  If you have seeds left over from your garden, you can also use them to grow microgreens.

Matching growing trays

In principle, every flat dish is suitable for growing microgreens. Regardless of whether it is an old casserole dish, saucer for flower pots or plastic bowls in which fruit or vegetables were previously packed. Of course, there are also special seed trays for microgreens that make cultivation a little easier.

Grow microgreens with or without soil?

There are also many options for the plant substrate. In addition to potting soil , organic herb & seed soil, hemp or coconut mats can also be used as a growing medium. However, these mats store water less well than potting soil and therefore have to be watered more frequently. Alternatively, you can put several layers of kitchen paper in the seed tray and sow the seeds on it. If you are using soil, the layer should be 3 to 4 inches high.

Tip: Reuse Microrgreen substrates?  No, the soil cannot be reused for microgreens after it has been grown, because some of the roots give off growth-inhibiting substances. However, you can spread the substrate over a large area in the bed or on the compost.

The right location

A suitable place for microgreens is a warm, light window sill without direct sunlight. If you place the pot on a small pedestal for better air circulation, the microgreens have optimal location conditions. The optimal germination temperature is between 15 – 22 ° C, depending on the type of plant, so cultivation in apartments usually works well.

How much light do microgreens need?  Unlike sprouts, microgreens require light to develop fully. However, a lot of light is not necessary. If you want to grow microgreens regularly or if there is not enough brightness, you can use LED lights for plants to provide enough light. A light-colored window sill is usually sufficient for small quantities and for the first few attempts.

Step-by-step instructions

When you have found a suitable seed tray and seeds for microgreens, you can start sowing. Here we have summarized step-by-step instructions for the successful cultivation of microgreens for you:

  1. Fill the planter about 3 – 4 cm high with potting soil , such as organic herb & seed compost . Alternatively, you can cut a hemp mat or several layers of kitchen paper to the size of the bowl.
  2. It is best to water the substrate before sowing so that the seeds are not washed away. If soil is used, it should be watered vigorously. Hemp mats can be placed in a bucket of water for a few minutes.
  3. Now the microgreens seeds can be sown. The seeds should be very close together here, but the substrate should still be visible in between. It’s best if the seeds are scattered uniformly. On the box of the seeds, you may often see more accurate information on the number of seeds.
  4. You should then carefully press the microgreen seeds down a little.
  5. The bowls are covered for better germination. This increases the humidity and the seeds germinate better. This works best if you put two identical bowls inside each other. The seeds are sown in the lower one and the upper bowl is placed directly on top to cover it. With many species, it is also useful to weigh down the upper shell a little. This helps the young plants to find more hold in the substrate.
  6. The cover is removed after 3 – 4 days. At this point, most of the seeds should be germinated and the top shell slightly raised from the seedlings. Without the influence of light, the plants tend to have a yellowish color. This is normal and changes very quickly when the plants are exposed to light.
  7. Depending on the plant and substrate, the microgreens have to be watered every 1 – 2 days. Carefully pour some water into the bowl until the soil is well moist again.

Tip : Large and hard-shell seeds such as peas ( Pisum sativum ) or sunflower seeds ( Helianthus annuus ) should be soaked in water for one night before sowing. This accelerates germination because it washes out germ-inhibiting substances and activates the germination process by absorbing water.

Caring microgreens properly

Most microgreens only take 7-21 days to be ready for harvest. But even in this short period of time, the seedlings want to be carefully cared for. The only difficulty in growing them is finding the right amount of water: the seedlings grow best in an evenly moist environment. Avoid drought. If it becomes too wet for the seeds for a long time, they can start to mold. Fresh tap water that is not completely lukewarm is best. The frequency of watering depends on the type of plant and the substrate and should be adapted accordingly. It is common to water microgreens every one or two days.

Harvest microgreens

The seedlings are ready for harvest when the cotyledons and, in some cases, the first true pairs of leaves have formed. When harvesting, the plants are cut off about a finger’s width above the substrate. Large scissors or a sharp knife will do this. However, you shouldn’t harvest too much at once: Since the microgreens start to rot quickly, they have to be processed directly. So only harvest when you need it.

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